Vital Swindon Town brings you the first part of out 2007/08 season review.
VITAL SWINDON TOWN SEASON REVIEW 2007/08 PART 1
Well the season started with much uncertainty hanging over the club. Swindon Town had to pay a £900,000 CVA payment by the end of June. Was it paid? No chance. The club still pushed ahead with it`s pre-season plans including a trip to Austria which was sorted out by manager Paul Sturrock.
Town were still celebrating promotion back to League One at the first attempt however several names would not return for the 2007/08 season. Those included, Gareth Whalley (Altrincham), Aaron Brown (Gillingham), Ricky Shakes (Brentford), Patrick Noubissie (Hibs), Royce Brownlie (Wellington Phoenix), Lukas Jutkiewicz (Everton), Ashan Holgate (Weston-Super-Mare), Ashley Westwood (loan return to Chester), Kevin James (loan return to Nottingham Forest), Ashley Grimes (loan return to Manchester City), Michael Timlin (loan return to Fulham) and Claude Gnakpa (Peterborough).
Off the pitch, things just got ridiculous. Town had been in talks with a “mystery consortium” for months however the club were refusing to give names of who would be coming in to lead the club forward. Eventually Rufus Brevett was named as the mouthpiece between the board and the manager and given the title of sporting director.
On the field Sturrock brought in Adebayo Akinfenwa however his Town deal was dependent on him passing a physical. Akinfenwa failed the physical and was soon shown the door.
Town headed into pre-season and had brought in Craig Easton from Leyton Orient as well as Plymouth`s Hasney Aljofree and Sheffield Wednesday midfielder Steve Adams. Sturrock would also bring in Chris Blackburn and Kaid Mohamed and called them “ones for the future”. It would turn out the future is not at Swindon but we will get to that in part 3. Miguel Comminges joined the club and gave Town something different. Town would also sign a new striker called Ibon Arrieta who anyone outside of Spain had never heard of but he scored a few goals in pre-season and was given a shot.
As the off the field drama un-folded Town headed to Northampton for their first game of the season with Town taking over 1,000 fans to Sixfields. Town fans outside TGI Fridays noticed some of the new board members in the car park and quizzed the Portuguese contingent on what their plans are. Someone quite simply said “who are you?” to which they shrugged their shoulders, Fans asked questions such as what will you do at Swindon?, how much money will you spend? Again confusion reigned and no answers were forthcoming. In the game Town would draw 1-1 with Northampton thanks to a 44th minute penalty from Christian Roberts.
Town would return home the following week and lose 2-0 to Championship side Charlton Athletic in the first round of the FA Cup. Peter Brezovan would make his first start for the first team since a horrific arm injury last season but looked a shadow of the player who saved 2 penalties against Hartlepool at the start of the 2006/07 League 2 season.
Town would finally win a game by beating Luton Town who were tipped as one of the favourites to win promotion back to the Championship. Lee Peacock and Craig Easton scored for Town giving them a 2-1 win much to the delight of the fans.
The following week Town made the short trip to Gloucestershire to play local rivals Cheltenham Town. On a hot and sunny day Town fans once again travelled in force as over a 1,000 Town fans once again travelled to watch Town. Like the first away game, Town could only get a draw with the score ending up 1-1. Blair Sturrock slotted home his first of the season for the Robins.
It soon emerged that BEST Holdings were the group who were taking over the club. Jim Little was named chairman-designate and set about making plans for the future of the club. Town fans were still concerned who else was involved and how the club was going to be used. On the field Town would make it two 1-1 draws in a row drawing at home to Crewe Alexandra. The much criticised Michael Pook scored Town`s only goal of the match.
Town seemed to be lacking up front so new owners BEST Holdings gave Town permission to sign Billy Paynter from Southend United, Jon-Paul McGovern, who had worked under Sturrock before and sign Simon Cox on loan from Reading. All signings got the fans seal of approval.
Town would head into the first round of the Johnstones Paint Trophy against newly relegated Brentford. Some other strange happenings occurred as a defender named Mauro Almeida made a surprise start. Who was this guy? Well he was someone BEST Holdings brought in. According to Little, another big player. Almeida couldn`t even cut it at League 2 Accrington Stanley. How was he going to get into Town`s first team. Well clearly Little and co. were looking to bring in players without the managers approval which no doubt irked Sturrock. The game actually ended up to be a decent affair with Chris Blackburn scoring 2 goals for Town in a 4-1 route of Brentford. Simon Cox would score his first goal for Town as well as Ibon Arrieta who scored a fantastic over the head kick to give the hosts a comfortable and enjoyable win.
Before Town`s League One home encounter with Yeovil, Jose Veiga of Benfica fame was paraded around the pitch as the new general manager of the club. Jim Little explained that everything to do with football started and ended with Jose. This was strange given the fact that Paul Sturrock was the manager. Town would lose the match 1-0 but many questions still need to be answered. Sadly no answers were forthcoming and BEST Holdings were never seen again at the County Ground. BEST would keep telling fans in the local press that the takeover was still on, The fans, press and creditors were starting to get very impatient with the lack of movement.
Town would travel to Hartlepool and draw 1-1 with The Pools before coming home and battering Bournemouth 4-1 at the County Ground. New signing Simon Cox scored for Town and Billy Paynter scored a hat trick on a memorable Saturday afternoon at the County Ground.
the next weekend was a visit to the New Den and a 2-1 win over Millwall. Cox kept up his scoring form whilst Jerel Ifil scored only his second league goal for Swindon. The first of course being the memorable promotion winner against Walsall, on the last day of the League 2 season last year.
October was a month of highs and lows. The highest point came on the 6th of October as Town demolished Gillingham 5-0 at the County Ground defeating former boss Iffy Onuora who was caretaker at Gillingham following the sacking of Ronnie Jepson. J-P McGovern scored his first Town goal and Cox and Paynter both scored a pair giving Town one of their most satisfying wins of the season.
OfF the field it was reported in the local newspapers that the current board wanted £18Million pounds to leave the club. The fans had really had enough of the off the field shenanigans. Town headed into their JPT Trophy game against Cheltenham with a very fierce atmosphere gathering around the stadium. The tax man was losing patience and now the club had a transfer embargo levied on them. Town would lose the match 3-1. The result really didn`t matter. The after match activities got all the attention as Town fans gathered outside of the Arkells Stand to protest against the board. All game chants of “SACK THE BOARD” rang around the stadium as fans vented their anger. There were scuffles outside the ground and the protests made all the major news channels as well as the local media.
Town put the JPT defeat behind them and beat Tranmere 1-0 at the County Ground. Barry Corr who had been instrumental in Town`s promotion the previous season made his return to action and scored the winning goal.
The next week Town headed north to Stoke to play Port Vale. Town would lose 2-1 to Vale in probably the poorest league match of the season. Lee Peacock scored for Town. The score should have been 2-2 however Simon Cox missed a sitter at the end of the game to ensure the hosts took all 3 points. The result was bad but things were about to get even worse at the County Ground.
PART 2 TO COME SOON!
Swindon Town 2007/08 Season Review Part 1
Vital Swindon Town brings you the first part of out 2007/08 season review.